Moscow Domodedovo Airport (DME), one of the fastest growing in the world, is Russia's largest and most modern passenger hub.
Owned and operated by the private sector DME Group, passenger traffic has soared from 3.8 million in 1998 to 25.7 million in 2011, and the growth shows no sign of slowing down.
Indeed, with strong economic growth anticipated for Russia and the Moscow region, in particular, forecasts suggest that passenger throughput at DME could exceed 60mppa by as early as 2020.
Serving its passengers
To meet this growing demand while improving the passenger experience, the DME Group, with the support of the Russian government, has embarked on a $3.5 billion programme to expand and upgrade its aeronautical infrastructure, connecting surface transportation, and commercial services.
Included are additional runways, improved road and rail access, upgraded and new terminals offering the highest quality passenger services, a state-of-the-art catering facility, and an entire airport city to be developed on 95 hectares adjacent to the passenger terminals.
Terminal 1, which currently handles all domestic and international passengers, is in its final stage of a reconstruction and expansion project that will double its size from 100,000sqm to 200,00sqm by the third quarter of 2012.
The terminal is already a commercial and F&B leader with more than 90 shops (35 landside and 59 airside) ranging from a large duty free complex to international brands such as Calzedonia, Swarovski, and Zilli to a plethora of local brand outlets.
New Terminal 2, being developed adjacent to T1, will be exclusively an international facility. Being constructed in phases, with the first 70,000sqm stage scheduled to be completed by mid-2012.
Further development stages will extend T2 to nearly 440,000sqm by late 2017, meaning that the terminal alone will be capable of handling 24 million passengers annually.
In addition to upscale retail and F&B, T2 will contain international airline lounges, a capsule hotel, business centre, gourmet supermarket and a library.
A four-star, 350-room international brand hotel will be connected to T2 by a crosswalk and the nearby 200-room Airhotel will undergo a significant upgrade and expansion as well.
But it doesn't finish there, because a new domestic terminal (T3) will be constructed in two stages on the other side of T1. The first stage, consisting of 129,000sqm is targeted for operation in early 2015. A further 132,000sqm area will be added in a second phase, and when completed in mid-2017, Terminal 3 will be able to serve just under 17 million passengers per annum.
Connected by an automated people mover and moving walkways, the three terminals will be fused in a curvilinear pattern offering economies and convenience of facility and service connectivity.
Finally, a large fourth terminal to be connected to T2 has been targeted after 2020, depending on demand. T4 will serve as an anchor for a cluster of three and four star hotels along with office buildings that will make up the core the 'DME Airport City'.
Other commercial buildings, shown in outline form on the DME Airport City rendering (see conceptual illustration), will be constructed based on forecasted commercial real estate demand and future passenger service needs.
Most are anticipated to be office buildings, but shopping, entertainment, educational, conference facilities and additional hotels are also envisioned.
Facilitating airport access
To improve DME's air passenger access, both rail and highway improvements are planned. Approximately 25% of all DME's passengers come to the airport via its Airexpress train. At present, the Airexpress train arrives and departs DME for downtown Moscow – approximately 40 kilometres north of the airport – once every half hour.
To increase this frequency to every 15 minutes, two Moscow-linked rail lines will be constructed to DME: one from the Paveletskaya passenger station and the other from the Aviatsionnaya station.
For passengers' convenience, a modern railway station will be constructed at DME with four railway tracks, two platforms, and a comfortable enclosed exit gallery near the terminals.
Plans are to eventually relocate DME's Airexpress train station directly under T2 with escalators connecting its passenger area to the rail platforms below, à la Frankfurt and Schiphol.
The Airexpress train lines are planned to be extended southward under the airport providing communities to the south of the airport with direct rail access to the terminal.
To further facilitate passenger access and reduce overall DME driving time to Moscow, the main highway corridor to the city (Federal Highway A105) will be widened and improved with choke points near the downtown addressed.
A new cloverleaf interchange will be constructed at the main airport entryway to improve its automobile and bus flows. Longer-term, a ring road is planned around the airport facilitating passenger access from other major highways nearby.
In the more distant future, a high-speed rail line that will serve Moscow and beyond will have a station at the entrance to DME's Airport City.
This high-speed line, together with the expanded Airexpress train service, will speed Moscow and regional workforce flows to DME Airport City office buildings, hotels, and its other commercial facilities, reinforcing the impact of its growing aviation connectivity on this development.
The Domodedovo Aerotropolis
Considerable work has been done on future runway needs and layouts for DME. It was originally thought that up to ten runways would be needed to meet future airport capacity demands. However, with next generation ATC systems such as NextGen I and NextGen II on the near-term horizon, I have suggested to the DME Group that they will need at most six parallel runways to handle their future air traffic growth.
This will free up over 600 hectares for commercial facility development on property reserved for future runways and their supporting aeronautical infrastructure.
The suggested commercial alternative would include a multi-product time-critical logistics and distribution zone, an aviation industry zone, flex-tech and bonded warehouse areas, and an Innovation Special Economic Zone containing clusters of research and technology parks and microelectronics and pharmaceutical complexes. (See conceptual illustration).
In addition, a health port offering medical tourism and wellness centres and an education port offering executive education and aviation-industries/logistics training are proposed.
A hotel cluster and service apartments would support short-term visitors and workers at these clusters while high quality mixed-use residential developments would house many of their full-time employees.
As an advisor, I have also suggested that a consumer goods and services zone be established to take advantage of the future nearby high-speed rail station and improved roadways.
This zone could include retail/wholesale merchandise marts, direct-factory outlet malls, and entertainment facilities attracting both air passengers and Moscow region residents.
And this is just the start. The DME Group has considerable development plans beyond the airport perimeter.
Together with their strategic partners, they have acquired over 13,000 hectares of land surrounding the airport. (See land bank illustration). Working with Moscow region planners and local jurisdictions, the group has begun to formulate the development of this property consistent with Aerotropolis principles.
The backbone of the Domodedovo Aerotropolis will be the main highway corridor (A105) linking DME northward to Moscow. This highway has considerable open land along it in proximity to the airport that is owned by the DME Group.
I've proposed that these parcels be developed with clusters of Class-A office buildings, upscale retail, hotels, showrooms, convention and exhibition facilities, an international finance district, information and communications technology (ICT) parks and a Russian World Trade and Cultural Centre, with quality residential complexes nearby.
To the south of the airport will be industrial zones whose facilities frequently utilise DME as well as surface transport to receive their supplies and ship finished products.
Land has been reserved for a future intermodal inland port near this industrial zone with a logistics village proposed adjacent to it.
Much of the remainder of the Domodedovo Aerotropolis will be developed with businesses that can effectively leverage and be leveraged by the airport, including DME's new air cargo village, along with community services such as educational institutions, parks, and recreation facilities. Ecologically sensitive areas will be reserved.
Efforts will be pursued to establish place-making and wayfinding design guidelines to make commercial clusters in the Domodedovo Aerotropolis interpretable, navigable and welcoming.
Mixed-use residential developments will likewise be located and planned so that they minimise commuting times to the airport and major Domodedovo Aerotropolis workplaces while providing a sense of community.
What makes the DME Airport City and greater Domodedovo Aerotropolis especially promising is that both are being developed on unencumbered land held by a single owner.
Competing or conflicting development can therefore be controlled while commercial synergies between the airport city and its surrounding aerotropolis fostered.
High risk? Yes. Overly ambitious? Perhaps. But the DME Group has already demonstrated through the remarkable achievements of its privately run airport in Russia that it possesses the leadership, vision, and ability to succeed in meeting high risk, highly ambitious challenges.
The challenge of the DME Airport City and Domodedovo Aerotropolis, however, is not just successful commercial real estate development. It is also about making the region DME serves more competitive while enhancing the passenger experience and generating passenger and cargo growth that will result in greater airport revenues.
About the author
John Kasarda directs the Kenan Institute at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and serves as senior strategic advisor to Domodedovo Asset Management.